"Grapes and Pink Glass Bowl" -- oil on canvas 30x30" -- Margie Guyot
When I set up this still life, it looked so complicated, I didn't know if I could pull it off. Could I finish it before the grapes rotted? I'm always challenging myself, though, so I just ignore my fears and start. And how do I start? Always with something I know: using a yardstick, I lightly draw in the crosshairs onto the canvas. Looking through my little viewfinder, I try to determine just where the center point is. Seemed to me the center point was on the plastic bag. I put a little mark of paint right there.
Before I figured out the trick of marking the center point, I'd have trouble fitting everything into the still life. Half of my composition would run off the canvas! I'm always looking through the viewfinder, trying to estimate whether something is 1/2 or 1/3 of the way up or down, right or left. And I do a lot of measuring, using my paintbrush at arm's length, comparing distances and sizes to objects. In this painting, my "unit of measure" was the green apple at the upper right. Everything related to the size of that apple.
It's a good way to control one's panic, comparing everything in a painting to one object's size.
Recently I was given 2 young cats to watch for a friend for the next 6 months. Of course I'm figuring it will be a permanent thing. The kitties were fascinated by the grapes in the plastic bags. They kept trying to fish grapes out and bat them around. Every afternoon when I quit painting, I had to cover the setup with a tablecloth to keep the kitties from destroying it. And I always clean off my palette and park it way up high, where Flower and Butterfly can't walk all over it.
I've found resale shops sometimes have very colorful (and ghastly!) silk scarves, quite cheap. I liked the purple and red scarf. I wouldn't be caught dead in it, but it added something to the painting. The bright reds of the scarf were echoed in the red geranium blossoms. My studio windowsills are lined with geraniums all winter, where they bloom like mad.